Genesis 40

1 Later the king's cupbearer and his baker offended their master, the king of Egypt.
2 Pharaoh was angry with his chief cupbearer and his chief baker.
3 He put them in the prison of the captain of the guard, the same place where Joseph was a prisoner.
4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he took care of them. After they had been confined for some time,
5 both prisoners--the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt--had dreams one night. Each man had a dream with its own special meaning.
6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were upset.
7 So he asked these officials of Pharaoh who were with him in his master's prison, "Why do you look so unhappy today?"
8 "We both had dreams," they answered him, "but there's no one to tell us what they mean." "Isn't God the only one who can tell what they mean?" Joseph asked them. "Why don't you tell me all about them."
9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said "In my dream a grapevine with three branches appeared in front of me.
10 Soon after it sprouted it blossomed. Then its clusters ripened into grapes.
11 Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, so I took the grapes and squeezed them into it. I put the cup in Pharaoh's hand."
12 "This is what it means," Joseph said to him. "The three branches are three days.
13 In the next three days Pharaoh will release you and restore you to your position. You will put Pharaoh's cup in his hand as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.
14 Remember me when things go well for you, and please do me a favor. Mention me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this prison.
15 I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I've done nothing to deserve being put in this prison."
16 The chief baker saw that the meaning Joseph had given to the cupbearer's dream was good. So he said to Joseph, "I had a dream too. In my dream three baskets of white baked goods were on my head.
17 The top basket contained all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head."
18 "This is what it means," Joseph replied. "The three baskets are three days.
19 In the next three days Pharaoh will cut off your head and hang your dead body on a pole. The birds will eat the flesh from your bones."
20 Two days later, on his birthday, Pharaoh had a special dinner prepared for all his servants. Of all his servants he gave special attention to the chief cupbearer and the chief baker.
21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position. So the cupbearer put the cup in Pharaoh's hand.
22 But he hung the chief baker just as Joseph had said in his interpretation.
23 Nevertheless, the chief cupbearer didn't remember Joseph. He forgot all about him.

Genesis 40 Commentary

Chapter 40

The chief butler and baker of Pharaoh in prison, Their dreams interpreted by Joseph. (1-19) The ingratitude of the chief butler. (20-23)

Verses 1-19 It was not so much the prison that made the butler and baker sad, as their dreams. God has more ways than one to sadden the spirits. Joseph had compassion towards them. Let us be concerned for the sadness of our brethren's countenances. It is often a relief to those that are in trouble to be noticed. Also learn to look into the causes of our own sorrow. Is there a good reason? Is there not comfort sufficient to balance it, whatever it is? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Joseph was careful to ascribe the glory to God. The chief butler's dream foretold his advancement. The chief baker's dream his death. It was not Joseph's fault that he brought the baker no better tidings. And thus ministers are but interpreters; they cannot make the thing otherwise than it is: if they deal faithfully, and their message prove unpleasing, it is not their fault. Joseph does not reflect upon his brethren that sold him; nor does he reflect on the wrong done him by his mistress and his master, but mildly states his own innocence. When we are called on to clear ourselves, we should carefully avoid, as much as may be, speaking ill of others. Let us be content to prove ourselves innocent, and not upbraid others with their guilt.

Verses 20-23 Joseph's interpretation of the dreams came to pass on the very day fixed. On Pharaoh's birth-day, all his servants attended him, and then the cases of these two came to be looked into. We may all profitably take notice of our birth-days, with thankfulness for the mercies of our birth, sorrow for the sinfulness of our lives, and expectation of the day of our death, as better than the day of our birth. But it seems strange that worldly people, who are so fond of living here, should rejoice at the end of one year after another of their short span of life. A Christian has cause to rejoice that he was born, also that he comes nearer to the end of his sin and sorrow, and nearer to his everlasting happiness. The chief butler remembered not Joseph, but forgot him. Joseph had deserved well at his hands, yet he forgot him. We must not think it strange, if in this world we have hatred shown us for our love, and slights for our kindness. See how apt those who are themselves at ease are to forget others in distress. Joseph learned by his disappointment to trust in God only. We cannot expect too little from man, nor too much from God. Let us not forget the sufferings, promises, and love of our Redeemer. We blame the chief butler's ingratitude to Joseph, yet we ourselves act much more ungratefully to the Lord Jesus. Joseph had but foretold the chief butler's enlargement, but Christ wrought out ours; he mediated with the King of Kings for us; yet we forget him, though often reminded of him, and though we have promised never to forget him. Thus ill do we requite Him, like foolish people and unwise.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 40

The history of this chapter is, the imprisonment of two of Pharaoh's officers, his chief butler and chief baker, who by the captain of the guard were made the charge of Joseph, Ge 40:1-4; they both dreamed in prison, which made them sad; Joseph taking notice of their sadness, asked the reason of it, and encouraged them to tell him their dreams, Ge 40:5-8; the chief butler told his dream of the vine and three branches, which Joseph interpreted of his restoration to his office within three days, and desired him to remember him unto Pharaoh when he stood before him, telling him his case, Ge 40:9-15; then the chief baker told his dream of three white baskets of food on his head, which the birds ate, and this Joseph interpreted of his being hanged within three days, Ge 40:16-19; and the events answered to the interpretation, but Joseph was forgot by the chief butler, Ge 40:20-23.

Genesis 40 Commentaries